He’s principled about these things. Sure, he’ll tell a 17-year-old he’d like to slip his boxers off. But actually slip his boxers off?

No way. What do you think he is, some kind of perv?

A former House page says he had sex with then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) after receiving explicit e-mails in which the congressman described assessing the sexual orientation and physical attributes of underage pages but waiting until later to make direct advances…

The former page, who agreed to discuss his relationship with Foley with the Los Angeles Times on the condition that he not be identified, said his electronic correspondence with Foley began after he finished the respected Capitol Hill page program for high school juniors. His sexual encounter was in the fall of 2000, he said. At the time, he was 21 and a graduate of a rural Northeastern college.

“I always knew you were a player but I don’t fool around with pages,” declared one instant message from Maf54, a screen name Foley used in exchanges that have become public involving male former pages…

[T]he former page’s exchanges with Foley offer a glimpse of possible predatory behavior by the congressman as he assessed male teenagers assigned as House errand-runners.

Says pollster Frank Luntz, these are not your father’s older brother’s Republicans.

Update: Foley’s got the cover of the new issue of Newsweek:

Foley was sexually active in Washington, according to a gay Republican who declined to be identified discussing Foley’s private life. Because he had a longtime partner, he told a friend, he preferred to have affairs with men who also had boyfriends. That way, he explained, they both had something to lose. Foley jokingly described this practice as “mutually assured destruction,” said this friend.

Foley was looked after, at least to a degree, by Kirk Fordham, who ran Foley’s first campaign and came to Washington as his chief of staff. Fordham, who is openly gay, has said he warned Foley not to flirt too openly. If Fordham is to be believed, Foley began showing undue interest in congressional pages as early as 2001…

The e-mails from Foley to the page did not go away. They began showing up in newsrooms—at the St. Petersburg Times and The Miami Herald in Florida and some Washington news organizations. It is not clear how they got there. (A St. Petersburg Times editor told NEWSWEEK that the paper received the e-mails from a source in Alexander’s office. The congressman’s office did not return calls.)

Fordham is due to testify before the House Ethics Committee this week.

Update: Hastert was scheduled to appear at a fundraiser in New York City later this month. He’s now been unscheduled.

Update: WaPo, page A01, tomorrow:

Another Republican congressman knew of disgraced former representative Mark Foley’s inappropriate Internet exchanges as far back as 2000 and personally confronted Foley about his communications.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) confirmed yesterday that a former page showed the congressman Internet messages that had made the youth feel uncomfortable with the direction Foley (R-Fla.) was taking their e-mail relationship…

A source with direct knowledge of Kolbe’s involvement said the messages shared with Kolbe were sexually explicit, and he read the contents to The Washington Post under condition that they are not reprinted. But Cline denied the source’s characterization, saying only that the messages had made the former page feel uncomfortable. Nevertheless, she said, “corrective action” was taken. Cline said she still has not yet determined whether that action went beyond Kolbe’s confrontation with Foley.

Kolbe is the only openly gay Republican in Congress, so make as much or as little of that as you like.

Update: Evangelicals are staying the course, but what about independents?